I used to agonize over each word and phrase in a first draft, doubtful that when I came back to it, weeks or months later, I would be able to see, much less fix, the things that didn’t work. But while I was writing my third novel, The Way Life Should Be – and editing other people’s manuscripts at the same time – I had an epiphany.
(Yes, it took three novels to figure this out.)
Here’s what I realized: My editor-self is surprisingly clear-headed, even ruthless. Hyper-critical and exacting, she is capable of transforming a freewheeling, messy draft into clear and lucid prose. And she likes doing it.
This realization freed my writer-self to have more fun. My first drafts have become more spontaneous and energetic; I feel free to try out a range of ideas, follow tangents in odd directions, write a scene of dialogue three different ways – all with the knowledge that my editor-self will step in when needed. With a red pencil and a roll of the eyes: What was she thinking?